Professor's Book Offers New Understanding of The Gospel of Thomas
(AXcess News) Bloomington, IL - Rather than representing a "new" or "lost" Christianity or some late Gnostic heresy, The Gospel of Thomas is one of the earliest texts from the first Church run by Jesus' family in Jerusalem and pre-dates the literary sources used by the synoptic Gospels, according to a new book by an Illinois Wesleyan University professor.
April DeConick, associate professor of religion at Illinois Wesleyan, is the author of "Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas," published by Continuum.
In addition, she says that the text was originally written in Aramaic, which was Jesus' native language, and suggests that the Gospel of Thomas probably came from Syria, which had first been evangelized by the Aramaic-speaking Christians from Jerusalem.
"They were very certain that they were living in the very end times," DeConick said. "The ethic of how they were living was end-time living: don't worry about raising a family, don't worry about food and clothes, just get out and convert as many people as possible so that when God's judgment comes as many will be saved as can be. I think that was the mentality that is shown in these original sayings."
Once the end of the world did not materialize, those preachers who were performing the "Kernel" began to refocus their apocalyptic expectations. Instead of teaching about a cosmic end, the preachers refocused their message to mystical beliefs and practices. This led to the accretions that have caused the Gospel of Thomas to be misunderstood, DeConick says.
DeConick believes that the Gospel was first used in the years 30-50 C.D. [This is obviously a typo for A.D.]
UPDATE: Coincidentally, just yesterday I came across the friendly skripture study blog, a group blog whose members (including Crystal, a frequent commenter on the NT Gateway blog) have been systematically commenting on the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas over the last few months.